Leo's Blog: Shame-an-isms

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I was out with a friend a couple of nights ago to see Wolverine 2 (pretty shite BTW), when she said to me, “now don’t get offended, but I read your recent blog post: ‘Home Again’ and I couldn’t pick out one line to quote, rave about, to celebrate and tell all my friends about, to get them to read it.” I felt the same. It was nice, easy reading. But that was it.

The last 7 months have been really exciting, but also really emotionally tough. I’ve travelled a lot and done some amazing collaborative work along the way, and on the day I left England for my long journey away, we managed to gain the largest funding support we have ever had to develop the company. At the same time I've had some very dark personal times.

Throughout all of these experiences, the line between public and private has been hard to walk. What do you tell the world of what you are doing and going through and what do you leave out? I am emotional, an emotional person. I need to express myself and keep fit to maintain some sort of stability.

Throughout my travels I felt I had to smile and celebrate the opportunities and not express the dark times; the falling apart of one collaborative situation, the sporadic sadness in my personal life and the loneliness of a travelling artist. But by repressing this I couldn’t put together an integrated, exciting most importantly authentic post, so I just didn’t post.

With this incredible funding we have received, we are having to step closer to what I maybe naively considered the 'devils teet' in the past. We have to consider corporate engagement to sustain the company, structuring and strategising a board. I have been trying to run away from this idea, maybe because of a mixture of an unwillingness to grow up, a political stance and the inevitability of the journey away from art and towards admin that a company structure suggests, but also an innate awareness of everything that Mark Ravenhill talks about in his recent speech at the opening of the Edinburgh festival.

I am excited and inspired by the possibilities that this whole journey suggest, but with this journey there is the fear and shame of feeling that you might be selling out and not knowing whether that can be a public feeling. With shame, for me comes a stepping back, a closing down, a quieting of my integrated self.

When I read my last blog, nothing in particular struck me as vital, as walking the line, as taking a risk. It was all true, but it was all too easy, surface, box ticking, correct, ‘nice’.

The friend who spoke out about the blog is a real friend. I feel like she believes in my ability to inspire myself and her, so told me it was lacking. It’s 4.18am and last weekend I did a course in Shamanism. I told 4 people about it. I didn’t tell my brother or most close friends. I was embarrassed that I am still into exploring ‘that hippy shit’. One of the friends I told tried to coax it out of me in company. I shut down; embarrassed and angered the he would try and use the information as a social conversation piece. But his instinct was right. Why be fucking embarrassed that I am looking for ways of healing, of feeling better, of fending off depression, of moving on and learning how to let go, of seeking alternatives to our health system norms of therapy and medication. Subsequently, I took my cynicism along to the workshop and had a conflicted time. Shame stopped me giving myself completely. Shame stopped me writing an integrated post…

I am now reading a book on the subject by Brene Brown: Daring Greatly, an easy read with some cheese and some important ideas. My thoughts are not original, but they do act as a double-handed samurai sword** swinging with intent against the deadening attack on visceral, heartfelt, expression that a self-censoring head state imposed on me.

This terrain of personal and public, art, profession and politics isn’t that easy to navigate. But it feels like the only way I can try and find my edge, is to put it all out there and fuck the shame! Maybe this post not the last one should have been called ‘Home Again’.

**wolverine 2…still a shite film even with samurai action

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